Quiet hybrid cars — dangerous for cyclists?

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Anonymous #

Two days ago I was walking up to Squirrel Hill and as I got to the top of Forbes, a car turned into an apartment complex immediately after I walked across the driveway. I didn’t hear this car at all and it kind of freaked me out. So my thoughts went to the blind and cyclists– when biking, I rely on sound quite a bit (although visually always check my surroundings).

NPR ironically had a blip on the radio yesterday concerning the same topic: http://www.npr.org/2013/01/11/169172188/quiet-hybrid-cars-pose-a-danger-to-the-blind

My questions is- what does everything think about this? Have you run into any cycling problems due to the lack of ‘car noise’ in a hybrid in traffic?


Anonymous #

I think it is about as stupid as it gets. I hear road noise/tires rolling on the pavement, not motors running. Tire noise is more than obvious. I have heard this crap before and I feel we would all be better served if cars were as quiet as they can be. The road noise will always be there. Never been startled by a Prius in my life and get passed by them every single day I commute. My commute is in Prius mecca, Highland Park. They are everywhere, which is great. I think most of these complaints about possible vehicles startling someone are complaints by people in offices, not outside on roads and sidewalks. If you can’t hear that tire noise, I don’t know what to tell you. Most everyone can even judge car’s speed by that noise, or at least I know I can.


Anonymous #

I agree with you concerning car noise; there is way too much noise in general. Hearing about the possibility of adding noise to hybrids is a pretty awful thought.

I’m just curious if folks have had any problems due to the lack of noise. It seems like the US Dept of Transportation is worried about something that has no relevance.


Pseudacris
Participant
#

One could also argue that this is an able-ist complaint.

Hearing impaired people reply on traffic to follow an orderly pattern and must do visual checks wherever they walk.

The burden should continue to fall on vehicle operators (including cyclists) to drive/ride safely and not wipe out the less-armored people and animals gracing the earth.


salty
Participant
#

Tires don’t make that much noise at low speeds, especially the “low rolling resistance” tires they tend to put on hybrid/electric cars. My understanding is that advocates for the blind were the primary driving force behind this, and it’s much more understandable in that light.

http://money.cnn.com/2010/05/19/autos/electric_car_noise/index.htm


rsprake
Participant
#

I hate the idea of adding noise to hybrids because they still do have a sound.


orionz06
Participant
#

I have had 2 instances where cars snuck up on me and have not made road noise, that was noticeable to me. That said I think this idea is dumb as hell.


Anonymous #

Although someone in that NPR piece suggested adding those clop-clop coconut noises from Holy Grail–that may be an idea whose time has come.


Anonymous #

If they added a noise go my hybrid, I would sell it. I hate noises and think it would be too ridiculous. Sorry, but I don’t think it is fair to single out cars that are just a little bit quieter. Sometimes I wonder if there is some other driving factor. Some folks have it in for a car that gets great MPG like a Prius. Who knows I guess.


edmonds59
Participant
#

I seriously doubt that the visually impaired population has some kind of beef with fuel efficient vehicles.

However the point that even the normally delightfully liberal NPR folks completely miss is that the burden of care in the transportation environment needs to be on the operator of the 3,000 lb potential weapon, even if it is a crunchy granola fueled Prius. The idea that sound should be added to a quiet vehicle so pedestrians and other vulnerable users can evade the motor vehicle leaves the burden of care on THEM, and that is complete horse-shit.


salty
Participant
#

joanne – like this? http://www.trotify.com/


Anonymous #

^Haha! Exactly!


Pierce
Participant
#

The topic could also read “Quiet hybrid cyclists — dangerous for cyclists?”

We’re pretty quiet ourselves


Pseudacris
Participant
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Quiet buildings dangerous to cars


helen s
Participant
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I have had other cyclist slip by me surprisingly close sometimes. When I think of it I yell “on MY left.” I was passed very closely on my right the other day- totally took me by surprise.


Steven
Participant
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the burden of care in the transportation environment needs to be on the operator of the 3,000 lb potential weapon

Even if drivers were perfect at yielding to pedestrians, I’d think it would be extremely disconcerting for blind people to no longer be able to sense when there’s a car and what it’s doing. As a pedestrian, I’d want to know what the cars are doing, even if every driver is 100% responsible.

So I think it’s appropriate to ensure all moving cars make some kind of sound.

Now why can’t we provide every car with a guy walking in front of it and ringing a bell? We’d be honoring automotive history, making streets safer (hard to do much damage at 4 mph), reducing unemployment, and providing vast numbers of people with healthy exercise. So many advantages!


Anonymous #

StuInMcCandless
Participant
#

Don’t forget that Port Authority has 30 hybrid buses. How does that fit into this discussion?


Steven
Participant
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As proof that hybrids can still be very noisy?

Are the buses even capable of turning off and restarting their conventional engines? I think those are the only kind whose silence is a potential issue.


cburch
Participant
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i think the lack of noise pollution is one of the bigger plusses of hybrids and evs. it would be a shame if crappy drivers created a situation where we had to loose this very real benefit. i like hearing birds and squirrels instead of cars.


StuInMcCandless
Participant
#

The buses’ diesel engines are always on, but they are much smaller and quieter than that of a regular bus. Even at that, any bus’s engine is 37 feet back of the front of the bus, so the point of danger is already well away from the point of noise creation. Just that hybrid buses are all that much quieter, with engine speed unrelated to vehicle speed.


Anonymous #

Loud vehicles are a problem for me. For example, if a bus passes going the other direction, I cannot hear what is coming behind me, because the bus is so damn loud. If they add noise to a hybrid, I have to wonder who is really behind it. One would think blind people which are soon to be no longer and are very few, can hear very well, due to them being blind. Anyway, my hope is in 10 years, there will be no blind people.


Anonymous #

Loud vehicles are a problem for me. For example, if a bus passes going the other direction, I cannot hear what is coming behind me, because the bus is so damn loud. If they add noise to a hybrid, I have to wonder who is really behind it. One would think blind people which are soon to be no longer and are very few, can hear very well, due to them being blind. Anyway, my hope is in 10 years, there will be no blind people.


mr marvelous
Participant
#

Blind people do not have enhanced hearing because they are blind. In fact there are plenty of blind who are also hearing impaired.


mr marvelous
Participant
#

Why would there no longer be sight impaired people in 10 years?


salty
Participant
#

Electric cars running them all over, obviously.


Anonymous #

“Why would there no longer be sight impaired people in 10 years?”

At UPMC and other places that have tapped into the brain to control hands and other tools our brains use. Here is a little about it. Pretty exciting stuff and things have evolved since that article. People with no hands can now FEEL things! That being said, the brain is the center to control the tools of the body. It won’t be long before people will be able to see. 10 years might be a bit optimistic, but I can’t help hoping it happens fast.

http://upmc.com/media/media-kit/bci/Pages/default.aspx


mr marvelous
Participant
#

The article sounds good but to cure all blindness is unrealistic, there is a patient on my unit who’s blindness is caused by cancer. There are too many causes for blindness to completely end it in everyone.


StuInMcCandless
Participant
#

…any more than the automatic insulin pump, new about 1985, has reduced diabetes any.

I say we reduce the number of cars on the road, train drivers better, enforce the vehicle code, and vastly improve bike infrastructure. $6 gas might help with the first (also put more Pria on the road), but the others are going to require political effort on our part.


Mick
Participant
#

I wish that cars had a mild, pleasant sound device they could use at will, maybe similar to a bicycle bell. Horns can give a tiny “beep” sometimes, but that is not what they are best at.

Just a little “Hello. I’m here.”


AtLeastMyKidsLoveMe
Participant
#

Or when you hit the “horn”, it plays the chorus of Lionel Ritchie’s classic: “Hello.”


Anonymous #

@atleastmykidsloveme

That would be pretty awesome

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